"Gillian?" Emily called out. They'd only stopped for a second, just enough time for the older woman to catch her breath. She'd still been standing when Emily went ahead to see what the trail was like. The only bright side that trip had left was that she could see was the sky was finally lightening. It'd be easier to maneuver, but they'd also be easier to spot in the daylight.
Fear gripped at Emily's chest as she strained to hear a reply. "Gillian, where are you?" Her cry was loud, panicked. Louder than it should have been, she realized, but rational thought slipped out the window as fear invaded her senses.
It'd been a long night so far, and the day didn't seem like it was going to get any better. Hurrying back to the last place she'd seen Gillian, Emily's foot slid off a loose rock, and hit the ground sideways. "Son of a…" She didn't finish her cruse, a rustle in the underbrush pulled her attention. "Who's there?"
"Em, what happened?"
Whipping around, Emily quickly scanned for the voice she was looking for. She sounded close, and tired. Gritting her teeth, Emily hobbled a little further until she was startled by movement to her right. Jumping as a hand reached out for her, Emily swore yanking her arm away.
"Jesus Christ, Gillian! You scared the hell out of me."
"Sorry, I –" She trailed off as the terrified looked finally registered with her sluggish brain. Wanting to comfort Emily, Gillian felt the urge to apologize for not being somewhere she could've been easily seen. But she had needed something to lean against, and the out of view portion of the tree had been the closest thing. The apology would have to wait; she didn't have the energy at the moment.
Managing a somewhat controlled descent, she hit the ground with an oomf. Closing her eyes, she heard Emily drop her bag and unzip it. She knew what was coming.
The few moments of blissful silence were interrupted as she felt herself being tapped on the arm with that damn bottle. "You need to drink some, Gill." Ignoring her, Gillian continued to breathe slowly, trying to quell her queasy stomach.
Emily tapped her again with slightly more force. "Come on, you have to drink something. You bled a lot; it'll help replace some fluids."
Gillian realized that she was only trying to help, but she was having a hard time excepting that fact at the present moment. Her stomach already felt like a cannonball had taken up residents, and all she really wanted to do was burrow into her bed and never get back up. She would be content to live out the rest of her days in the safety of her blankets.
Pitifully, she attempted to push Emily's offending limb away, but the damn thing stubbornly stayed put. Sighing, she gave up, and took the half empty bottle; her hand, and it, dropping to the ground. Just looking at it made her gag. It was only a matter of time before everything came back up anyway. She was surprised it hadn't already.
She had just about dozed off when her heart stopped for a moment before it tried to rip its way out of her chest. She could hear them: a soft rustle of bushes, faint yet heavy footsteps.
"Here kitty, kitty, kitty." It was hushed like there was still a good distance between them.
These men were toying with them, she knew they were. They could have caught them hours ago if they'd wanted too, but they were apparently enjoying the hunt. They'd caught up countless times only to fall back, and they'd been yo-yoing between the two all night.
But this time was different. They'd called out, they hadn't any time before. They'd merely get louder in their approach before backing off again. Gillian thought, maybe, they were letting them know the game was finally over now. There would be no escape this time.
Emily stole the bottle from her still stunned hand, and shoved it back in the bag. Swing it over her shoulder, she stood. Grabbing Gillian's hand, Emily pulled her up too. Starting off, she was stopped be a tug on her arm. Emily tried again to no avail, her ward refusing to budge. "What are you doing? We gotta go," a slight hysteria laced her voice at Gillian's silent protests.
Giving another semi-hard yank, Emily understood the sad look she was receiving. She sniffed, dropping the cold hand from hers. "I'm not leaving you. I'm not. You can't make me."
Gillian shook her head, swallowing hard. With a shaking hand, she tucked a chuck of blood matted hair back, just needing a second to fully resign herself to what she was doing. Taking a deep breath, she winced placing her hands on Emily's shoulders and looked her in the eye. "You are. You have too. Get to the road, find help. You have to do it, I can't. I'm only going to get you caught"
She could hear their mutterings back and forth now, it wouldn't be long now. Emily tried to pull her along, her eyes glossed over. "No, no, no, no, no… I'm not – I can't leave you. We can make it… we can… w – come with me please!"
A wistful smile graced her battered features. Gillian pulled Emily in as tightly as she could, and squeezed as hard her angry side allowed.
"Olly, olly, oxen free, come out, come out, wherever you are."
The playful calls only made bruised woman's hold tighter. "I love you so much." Pushing Emily back to arm's length, Gillian wiped at the tears running down her face with one hand, and held Emily away from her with the other. Ignoring Emily's quiet objections and cries, Gillian turned her around, and let her hands fall. "Go." When Emily refused to move, Gillian shoved her away with all the power she could muster, stumbling in the process. "Go!"
Emily's ears caught the sound of crunching leaf litter and snapping twigs. She could believe she was going to do this. In this moment, she hated herself. For what she was doing, for what Gillian was making her do. She hesitated a second longer before giving Gillian one last pained glance then she turned and ran.
Watching until Emily disappeared through the trees, Gillian leaned against the coarse bark again and slid down until she was firmly planted on the ground. God, she felt sick. Nerves, blood loss, and broken pieces would do that, she guessed. She figured if she managed to time it just right, she might be able to hit a pair of shoes. The thought made her chuckle then wince and drop her head trying to breathe back the gray tinge that colored her sight.
The footsteps were close, so close. There was only a few steps between her limited line of sight and her now captures' feet. As she sat listening to the steady breathing of the two men, she could feel her aching muscles tense, preparing for whatever was next.
"What do we have here? A little sitting duck."
The other took a step closer, and kneeled down. "Look at all that blood." Reaching out with the end of his weapon, he gave her a slight shove, and sighed dramatically when she didn't react. "They're not much fun like this. Not much fight left in 'em."